Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What to Expect When You're Expecting... A Crit: Pt 1

So I may not be an expert or nuthin', but I have received my fair share of criticism. I finally finished my rewrite of Evangeline (which changed things so much I had to rewrite my blurb and synopsis! :P ) and have sent it out to betas to read.

How did I find said readers? you may ask, as you are wont to do. You really are quite inquisitive, you know. Well, one reader has been with me for a long time, and has read Evangeline in nearly all of its recent incarnations.

We "met" at the most-awesome QueryTracker Forum, which I find to be an excellent place not to only to post your work, but to foster relationships with other writers. (Of course, QueryTracker itself is the perfect tool to keep track of your queries and tidbits about agents, but that's another post. Can't query without getting feedback first. That's rule #1 of querying. Rule #2 is you don't talk about QueryTracker... Wait, that's not right...).

At a forum like QueryTracker's, you can "test-drive" crit partners or betas with a sample of your work before you commit. But, you may be saying—always interrupting, you are—how do I make the leap from getting a single crit from someone to becoming crit partners? The simple answer is: ASK. The worst thing they can say is no. (And I know, from experience, that anyone who has to say no is usually VERY apologetic about it, so it will be a nice no, if you get one)

Too afraid to just shoot off a pm willy-nilly? Take some time to find out a little more about your potential crit partner. Follow their blog. See what they write about revisions. See what they say about crit buddies. Even though they may already have a devoted crit group, that doesn't mean they won't need a fresh eye for a project that their crit buddies have read so many times it makes their head spin. My crit buddy has been reading Evangeline in various forms for well over a year, which means she'll have a different reaction to the manuscript—especially the changes I made—than someone new.

Which brings me to how I found a second reader for the current version of Evangeline, one who had never read any of the novel before. Ever. Since I'm not on QueryTracker enough these days to find a reader I can trust, I turned to the blogosphere, and my "friends" there. Is there anyone whose blog you follow who writes reviews? A blogger who is not only someone that you respect, but someone you are comfortable enough with/have had enough conversations with to ask for help? Just for the record, if someone has just posted like eight straight posts about how busy they are they barely have time to blog, maybe they shouldn't be at the top of your list. ;)

In conclusion, if you have a blog, interact with your peers, and have what you can confidently call "writing buddies" (whether you've actually met them IRL or not), you should have a good-sized pool of critters to draw on for help. No writer is an island, and no writer's spouse/sibling/parent/boyfriend/bff can give enough of the right sort of constructive criticism needed to properly revise a novel. I need at least two people for a decent crit, one of them having never seen the work before. I've been working on Evangeline since November 2008, so it sometimes feels like I'm starting to run out of fresh eyes, lol!

Any other questions about finding crit partners?

Tune in next week for a post on critters, and what you should expect (and not expect) from them.

Thanks, y'all!


Krispy said...

Good advice! I'll have to check out the Query Tracker forums when I get to that point. And I like your system for critting - an old set and a new set of eyes. Hmm, that sounds a little creepy. :P

Cynthia Lee said...

Thanks for the suggestion about the Query Tracker forums.

I've been wondering how to go about getting a crit partner for a few weeks now.

JEM said...

Good suggestions. I've heard about the QT forums before but haven't checked them out yet. I've got good old fashioned paranoia about online stuff. I've got an awesome crit group right now but they only do YA and we only meet every other week, so I need someone to crit the adult novel I'm about to finish. I might have to brave the waters of the forums and see what I get.

Abby Annis said...

Wow, that first crit buddy you were talking about sounds like she's really awesome. ;)

And I will second QT as an excellent place to find fresh eyes. Lots of helpful people over there.

Elaine AM Smith said...

This is a great post. I'll have a look at QT again.
I read out loud from my wip at my a Writer's Circle and get feed back there but it doesn't touch how much more I get from my Beta.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Great post, Tere! I only have on CP, so this was a great push for me to add more eyes. :-)

K.M. Weiland said...

Great post. "Where do I find critique partners?" is a question I'm often asked. I'll have to check out QueryTracker and pass it along. Crit partners and beta readers are one of the most vital parts of story-writing. No matter how good we are as authors, we simply lack the objectivity to really see and fix our stories' problems. Thank heavens for generous readers willing to give their time and opinions!

Sophia the Writer said...

I found mine off beta reader roundups on Roni Loren's blog and Adventures in Children's Publishing. yay for the internetz

I totally went to N'awlins when I was dating a Louisianian in college - and he mentioned the Vietnamese thing :D Probably the French influence. We got to drive over Lake Pontchartrain.

Julie Musil said...

It sounds as if you and your critique partners work well together, which is great! My critique partners are priceless, and I'm so glad we've found each other. Good luck with your revision!